My copy of Captain America: The First Avenger on Blu-Ray arrived at my doorstep yesterday and not an hour passed before it was playing in my basement while the digital copy was being transferred to our iPad.
The only problem was I had stuff to take care of around the house, most of it in places other than the basement. Still, it made me feel better to know that Steve Rogers was beating the snot out of Nazis somewhere in my home regardless of what I was doing. Also, my sons were downstairs with some of their friends and putting the film on for them served several purposes.
First, it kept their attention, which in turn kept them from making a complete mess out of the play area in the basement that had just been straightened up. The friends they had over had yet to see the movie so the running through the house and ambient shouting noise was kept at a minimum. It was exchanged for the digitally enhanced explosions and clanging of Vibranium against German skulls.
Second, it planted the seed for the love of Captain America in the minds and hearts of their friends. I cannot account for which superheroes are being promoted by their own parents, if any. Thus, whenever I get the chance to subliminally or downright obviously force the preference for something that I want them to like into their developing little psyches, I take it.
Finally, it forced my sons to choose their allegiance. I presented to them the opportunity to watch Captain America with their friends. Since they want to be cool in front of them, this provided me with a chance to finally see whether or not they really think Cap is cool.
You see, normally, my sons pretend to dislike all things Captain America while under my watchful eye. If they know I am observing them while playing with their Super Hero Squad figures, Cap will be the first casualty and a sideways glance will be thrown my way, a glance that says, “What of your precious Captain America now, father?” When we originally saw the movie in the theater, they both protested vehemently. I settled on telling them they were going with my wife and I to see it and that they didn’t have to like it but they had damn well better not interrupt my viewing pleasure. That’s what their mother was going for. It was a stalemate.
Forcing them to tip their hands was a risky move on my part. Often, my sons suddenly like something they previously hated when they discover their good friend likes it. This has been particularly frustrating with their choice in food lately. If Bobby likes pasta, my youngest son suddenly likes it too despite refusing to eat t the last time we made it and will now refuse to eat the stupid chicken nuggets we made him after having pouted and stomped around the grocery store, complaining that we weren’t getting him any of the food that he liked. Furthermore, he had to have the nuggets shaped like dinosaurs because the shape somehow effects the flavor due to some sort of complex relationship, the science of which my sons would swear is entirely sound despite the fact that I was previously unaware of it.
However, for as often as their friends influence my sons’ behavior, my sons’ influence their friends’ likes and dislikes just as often. Sometimes they follow. Sometimes they lead.
I feared that my insistence that they finally make clear their feelings about Cap could have forced them into a corner that they aggressively fought their way out of with my feelings for my favorite super hero left tattered in the melee. They could have dug their feet in and refused to watch the movie, causing their buddies to want nothing to do with it either. They could have destroyed their old man’s hopes that he could bond with them over Captain America related trivia. They could have broken my heart; the heart which pumps blue and red blood through it and I swear has a little white start in the middle of it (I still kick myself for not getting a copy of that x-ray).
Still, much like Steve Rogers’ decision to convince Howard Stark and Peggy Carter to assist in dropping him behind enemy lines, I took the risk. And you know what? It paid off.
“Yeah, let’s watch it,” they proclaimed to their friends. “It’s awesome.”
For as wide as I smiled on the outside, my inner smile put the Marianas Trench to shame. There my sons sat, mesmerized by Captain America: The First Avenger and, as my household duties took me through the viewing area, I relished every moment. I even stopped to add some commentary at one point.
“There are guys laying down their lives for their country. Who am I to do any less,” argued a skinny, weakling Steve Rogers on screen with his pal, Bucky as Dr. Erskine conveniently eavesdropped nearby.
“See, boys,” I stopped to monologue with a pile of folded clothes in my arms, “that’s what makes Captain America so great. He stands for what he believes in and he…”
“Jeez, Dad! Alright already,” exclaimed my oldest, having heard this speech before.
It was then that I decided to just let them watch the rest of the movie in peace and quit while I was ahead.